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Advances in Research

5(3): 1-7, 2015, Article no.AIR.16235

ISSN: 2348-0394

SCIENCEDOMAIN international

The Thermal Analysis of Fuel Fired Crucible Furnace

Using Autodesk Inventor Simulation Software
A. A. Abioye1,2, P. O. Atanda2, O. F. Kolawole1, O. E. Olorunniwo2,
A. R. Adetunji1,2, O. P. Abioye2 and K. J. Akinluwade1,3*

Department of Engineering, Prototype Engineering Development Institute, Ilesa, National Agency for
Science and Engineering Infrastructure, NASENI, Nigeria.
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife,
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, African University of Science and
Technology, Abuja, Nigeria.
Authors contributions
This work was carried out in collaboration between all authors. Author AAA designed the study,
carried out the research, wrote the protocol and wrote the first draft of the manuscript. Author OFK
performed the modeling. Authors OEO and OPA did the data analysis. Author KJA did the literature
searches. Authors POA and ARA supervised the study and interpreted the results. All authors read
and approved the final manuscript.
Article Information

DOI: 10.9734/AIR/2015/16235
(1) Martin Krger, Professor Computational Polymer Physics, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zrich), Switzerland.
(1) Anonymous, Anna University (GKMCET), India.
(2) Anonymous, Middle East Technical University, Turkey.
Complete Peer review History:


Original Research Article

Received 17 January 2015

Accepted 19th May 2015
Published 29th June 2015

The reasons for failure of locally made furnace in the foundries were as a result of cycles of
operating temperatures that they were subjected to, which caused thermal stress and strain on the
furnaces. This paper studied the simulation of thermal analysis of Fuel fired Crucible Furnace to
predict the effect of thermal stress and strain on it.

Keywords: Thermal stress; thermal strain; simulation; thermal analysis; crucible furnace.

*Corresponding author: E-mail:;

Abioye et al.; AIR, 5(3): 1-7, 2015; Article no.AIR.16235

one may specifically design the material to

reduce thermal stresses when subjected to a
thermal shock [7].

Furnace is a term used to identify a closed space
where heat is applied to a body in order to raise
its temperature. The source of heat may be fuel
or electricity. Commonly, metals and alloys and
sometimes non-metals are heated in furnaces.
The purpose of heating defines the temperature
of heating and heating rate [1]. A furnace is an
apparatus in which heat is generated and
transferred directly or indirectly to a molten or
solid mass for the purpose of effecting a
physical, chemical or metallurgical change in the
mass [2]. Furnace is equipment isolated from the
surrounding by an insulated wall and is used to
transfer heat to the material to be melted or heat
treated within the furnace [3]. An ideal furnace is
one in which all energy produced is utilized, this
practically unachievable and there is no thermal
processing equipment with efficiency of 100%
[4]. A furnace of high efficiency is therefore a
system in which energy losses are minimal. In
practice, however, a lot of heat is lost in several
ways. The losses include energy conversion
losses, furnace wall losses, furnace opening
losses and the likes [5]. In order to prevent these
losses, materials that can retain and conserve
heat known as refractory materials are therefore
used as lining materials for the furnaces.
Refractories are porous, multi-component and
heterogeneous materials composed of thermally
stable mineral aggregate, a binder phase and
additives [6]. Refractory wall of furnace is a key
component which is used as insulation layer.

From literature, the thermal stress distribution

has been calculated in induction furnace, by
determining the temperature distribution from the
thermal analysis. In this, the materials which
were less in temperature would be reluctant for
the expansion and hence prevented the
expansion of the layers of material with higher
temperature. This restriction induced the stress
in the material of the induction furnace. The
different layers of the induction furnace wall
having different materials resulted in the different
thermal coefficient of expansion. The variance of
thermal expansion also induced the thermal
stress [8].

2.1 Theoretical Analysis and Modelling of
Fuel Fired Crucible Furnace
The major criterion in the development of the fuel
fired crucible furnace was to ensure minimum
heat losses from the furnace to the surrounding.
Adequate insulation was provided to achieve this
and also to optimize the furnace efficiency [9].
The rate of heat transfer across the crucible
furnace depends on the thermal properties of the
When a temperature gradient exists in a body,
there will be energy transfer from the region of
high temperature to low temperature region. The
energy transferred by conduction and the heat
transfer rate per unit area is proportional to
normal temperature gradient;

Temperature change causes thermal stress and

strain. Usually furnace designs are made of
different parts of different materials, the materials
expand as temperature increases and contract
as it decreases which can lead to thermal fatigue
causing cracking of the fuel fired crucible furnace
linings. Restriction of thermal strain cause
thermal stress. The design of fuel fired crucible
furnace involves parts made of more than one
material. When a structure is heated or cooled, it
deforms by expanding and contracting. If the
deformation is restricted as a result of
displacement constraint or opposing pressure,
thermal stress is induced in the structure.
Thermal stresses also occur due to non uniform
deformation as a result of different coefficients of
thermal expansion in different materials in the
structure. One major limitation of ceramics is
their inherent brittleness that can result in
catastrophic failure under severe thermal shock
loads. For ceramics in high temperature
applications such as fuel fired crucible furnace,

When constant of proportionality is introduced,
we have


Where; q is heat transfer rate, (dT/dx) is

temperature gradient in the direction of flow and
k is thermal conductivity of the material
The equation 2 above is called Fouriers law of
heat conduction.
Fouriers law can be redefined when heat flow
across the wall as

Abioye et al.; AIR, 5(3): 1-7, 2015; Article no.AIR.16235



Ri, R1, R2, R3, R4 and R5 are radial distance of the

crucible furnace, copper charge, crucible pot,
flame gap, refractory lining and furnace shell


= t2-t1 and
= l. The term l/kA is
called thermal resistance

Substituting the above values inside the equation

6, a lining of uniform thickness 70 mm was
arrived at to give a monolithic refractory
structure. The clearance between the crucible
pot and refractory lining of the furnace shell was
the space left after the refractory lining has been
determined. This clearance was the flame gap
where the flame from the fuel combustion would
have a direct impact on the crucible pot for the
melting of the charge. From the theoretical
analysis of the furnace above, the following
specifications were obtained for the design of the

For the case of this fuel fired crucible furnace,

the capacity of the furnace to be developed was
200 kg. Knowing the density of the charge which
was copper to be 8920 kg/m , in order to obtain
crucible pot of that capacity, a compressor boiler
plate or refrigerator condensers cylinder with the
height (h) of the cylinder 500 mm, the diameter
(d), 161 mm and thickness (t) of 28 mm was
used. Substituting these values into the equation
4 below, the volume of crucible pot was
calculated to be 0.0278 m ; since the volume of
the crucible pot and the density of the copper
charge were known, the mass of the copper
charge that the crucible pot could contain was
calculated using equation 5.

The Total height of the crucible furnace = 760

The height of the crucible body = 610 mm
The height of the crucible cover = 150 mm
The diameter of the crucible = 577 mm
The thickness of the kaolin lining= 70 mm
The flame gap = 57.5 mm
The radius of crucible pot = 161 mm


Where, v is the volume of the crucible pot, r is

the radius of the crucible pot and h is the height
of the crucible pot

The modeling of the fuel- fired crucible furnace to

be constructed was done using Autodesk

Inventor software. The software was used
because of its flexibility and ability to give a
detailed design over AutoCAD software. The
models of the furnace to be constructed were
shown in Figs. 1 to 4, these Figures represent
the geometric view of the furnace, the exploded
view showing parts of the furnace, the 2D of the
crucible furnace with dimensions and the
crossectional view of the furnace respectively.

Where; is the density of the charge and m is

the mass of the charge
For the furnace to have good heat retention and
to be able to accommodate the crucible pot of
that capacity, the height (L) of the furnace must
be well above the crucible pot which was
assumed to be 760 mm to create allowance for
temperature (Ti) for the furnace was assumed to
be 1473K and the outside temperature (To) of the
furnace shell was assumed to be 348.6 K. The
thickness of the mild steel sheet used was 5mm.
In order to be able to achieve the above
temperatures, the thickness of the refractory
lining was calculated using cylindrical heat
transfer equation in equation 6 below.



Q is the quantity of heat supplied which was

assumed to be 1.67 KW
Ka, Kb, Kc, Kd and Ke are the thermal conductivities
of copper, crucible pot (mild steel), dry air, and
furnace shell (mild steel) respectively.

Fig. 1. Geometric view of the crucible furnace


Abioye et al.; AIR, 5(3): 1-7, 2015; Article no.AIR.16235

Fig. 2. Exploded view showing part of the

crucible furnace [6]

Fig. 3. 2D of crucible furnace with dimension

The crucible furnace was made up of four units:

The furnace wall, which was made up of mild
steel sheet of 5 mm thickness, the lining
materials, the flame gap and the crucible pot.
The function of the furnace shell was to provide
housing for the refractory lining and the crucible
pot. The objectives of the furnace shell were to
provide rigidity, strength, ease of fabrication,
ability to carry its own weight and that refractory
linings and crucible pot and ability to retain high
strength even after shaping [10]. The function of
the furnace refractory was to reduce heat loss in
the furnace. The objectives of the refractory were
determined considering factors environmental
condition, furnace requirement and the expected
length of service [11]. Each units were made up
of different materials; mild steel, kaolin and air at
the flame gap. These materials have different
coefficients of thermal expansion, also the design
of furnace is such that the expansion of the
furnace lining is restricted by displacement
constraint; the furnace shell. As a result of these
factors coupled with non uniform heat
distribution, there will be non uniform deformation
that will induce thermal stress in the furnace.

Fig. 4. Crossectional view of the crucible


Two design scenarios were created for the

thermal analysis of the fuel fired crucible furnace.
The first design scenario simulated the
temperature distribution and heat flux. The
second design scenario simulated thermal
displacement, Von Mises thermal strain and
stress. One quarter of the crucible furnace was
modeled on Autodesk Inventor 2014 as shown
in Fig. 5; the reason was to reduce mesh density
and computation time. The one quarter model
was imported into Autodesk simulation
multiphysics 2013 using steady state heat
transfer analysis.

Fig. 5. One quarter mesh of the crucible

Materials were then assigned to individual
component such as mild steel to furnace shell
and crucible pot, kaolin to furnace lining and air
to flame gap. The material properties were as
shown in the Table 1. Specific heat capacity of
the materials was not required since the
simulation was done in a steady state and not
transient. A mesh size of 1 mm was chosen

Abioye et al.; AIR, 5(3): 1-7, 2015; Article no.AIR.16235

because the smallest component was 5 mm thick

that gives a total of 5 mesh division across the
smallest component. Brick elements with mid
side nodes were chosen. The boundary
conditions; the temperature of 1473K was
applied to the flame gap, the surface convection
load of 25 J/sKm2 with ambient temperature
348.4 K was also applied to the furnace
surrounding. The simulation was run and the
temperature distribution and heat flow were
generated as shown in Figs. 6 and 7. A second
design scenario was created using static stress
with linear material model to study the thermal
effect on the fuel fired crucible furnace. Keeping
materials and mesh constant as in design
scenario 1 two symmetry constraint was added
along the YZ and XZ plane (because of onequarter model). The model was stabilized at the
base using 3D spring support, and then the
thermal load obtained from the design scenario 1
was mapped into the model with gravity acting in
negative Z direction. Figs. 8, 9 and 10 shows the
results obtained for thermal displacement, stress
and strain.

maximum temperature of 1529.655 K at the

flame gap region of furnace and the minimum
temperature of 274.838 K would be at some
region of the furnace shell. The crucible pot
would experience temperature range 1278.691
K- 1529.655 K. The kaolin refractory would offer
a very good insulation going by the temperature
distribution result in Fig. 6.
The heat flux would be built in the crucible pot
with the maximum flux 7.43699 x 10 J/m s at the
base edge of the crucible pot. Uniform minimum
heat flux 415.575 J/m s would be experienced at
the flame gap and the refractory linings. As
shown in Fig. 7.
In Fig. 8, the crucible pot would experience
maximum thermal displacement and some
displacement at the furnace cover. The thermal
strain would be maximum at the base edge of the
crucible pot and the edge of the furnace cover
(where there are joints), also thermal strain
would also be experience at the surface of the
furnace lining as shown in Fig. 9.

Fig. 6. 3D and 2D temperature distribution of

the fuel fired crucible furnace


Fig. 7. 3D and 2D total heat flux of the fuel
fired crucible furnace

It could be seen that the temperature distribution

for the fuel fired crucible furnace Fig. 6 has

Abioye et al.; AIR, 5(3): 1-7, 2015; Article no.AIR.16235

Table 1. Material properties for the component parts of fuel fired crucible furnace
Mild Steel

Mass density (Kg/m3)


Thermal conductivity (J/smK)


Fig. 10. 3D Von mises stress of the fuel fired

crucible furnace

Fig. 8. 3D Thermal displacement of the fuel

fired crucible furnace

The kaolin refractory lining would offer a suitable
thermal insulation for the fuel fired crucible
furnace. The thermal displacement on the
crucible pot was due lack of constraint at the top
of the crucible pot. This might limit the life
duration of the pot when subjected to constant of
melting of charge. The failure of the crucible pot
would start at the base edge of the pot due to the
thermal stress constraint which would lead to
maximum thermal stress at the base edge;
likewise failure would also be experienced at the
inner tip of the furnace cover due to the above
reason. The crucible pot could be change if
failure was noticed. At the prevailing
temperatures the refractory lining could withstand
the thermal stress, with this thermal analysis it
could be predicted that the designed fuel fired
crucible furnace would perform optimally with
little deformation at the crucible pot and furnace

Fig. 9. 3D Von mises strain of the fuel fired

crucible furnace
The thermal stresses would be experienced in
the furnace with the maximum value at the base
edge of the crucible pot and the inner edge of the
furnace cover where thermal strains were
experienced as shown in Fig. 10.

Authors have
interests exist.





Abioye et al.; AIR, 5(3): 1-7, 2015; Article no.AIR.16235

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